Moving Past The Shame To Find Hope

As a psychiatrist, I came to terms with the stigma of mental illness long ago. By doing so, I learned to say with great pride and earnestness that I am a psychiatrist. While others in life go to work with a sense of dread and drudgery, I have a treasure chest of satisfaction awaiting me each day. I love what I do. I listen to people so that I can understand them and prescribe medications, routines, and lifestyle changes to help bring relief to emotional turmoil and help them achieve meaningful goals. This is not an exaggeration. This is what I do every day and my patients thank me for it. I am writing this blog to say “Thank You!” to each of them.

First, “Thank You!” for having the courage to walk into my office. Let’s face it, even in 2017 that very first step takes guts. I know that by walking into my office there are people out there, including your family members, who will laugh at you and ridicule you. I am standing up to applaud you because you have taken your life into your own hands to make a positive change. Bravo!!! Your decision deserves to be celebrated.

Thank you! for having the courage to tell the truth. Thank you for honestly sharing your heart, your pain, your struggles, your shortcomings, and your wishes and dreams. This is the stuff your life (and mine) is made of moment by moment. By sharing with me honestly you have opened a necessary door to happiness - that door is hope. So many people that you know have bolted that door shut in their lives, and told you to do exactly the same thing, but you had the audacity to open that door and peek behind it and then throw it wide. Thank you! for your curiosity, your hope, and your desire to have more happiness in life.

Thank you! for your trust in me, in medicine, and in your own agency and will. Thank you! for stepping out of faith that if you try new things that you will get new and possibly better results. It requires so much patience and faith to start anything new because the process of doing new things means there will be mistakes. Yet you are learning to shake off mistakes, learn from them and move on. Kudos to you! Your efforts are huge and very noteworthy. I acknowledge you for your persistence.

Thank you! for not expecting guarantees before action. Washing machines come with guarantees, but life does not. And now you are beginning to live with mistakes and without regret, empty promises or guarantees. Your very actions are becoming the rewards that you seek!!! How cool is that?! You are the engine that moves your life forward for your own reasons and your own purposes.

Thank you! for not listening to the naysayers, the doubters, the voices, and the haters out there who say “Those medicines don’t work!”, “What can you get out of talking to someone?”, “It’s all in your head anyway!”, “You are fooling yourself why do you even try?” or ”You’ll never get anywhere”. In fact, you are proving to yourself every day that you are worthy. And that your life has so much more value than you ever believed. And your life means so very much to so many people including me.

Thank you! for receiving love in your life, including mine. I appreciate you and what you do in service to yourself. Thank you for moving past the shame of being human to finding the hope and happiness of being a loving and lovable human being. Thank you! for sharing your victory and your hope with those that you know. Thank you! for pushing past the voices of others to finding your own. Thank you! for teaching and encouraging me! Thank you! for waking up another day to live your life.


Jessica K. Hairston, MD

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